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Max Weber's Social Theory

Such structure and order are most obvious, of course, in the bureaucracies of which society is composed. Bureaucracy, which is also an important concept in Weber's social theory, is defined according to rationalized form or structure, authority, and process of systemic behavior. In a bureaucracy, says Weber:

1. The regular activities required for the purposes of the bureaucratically governed structure are distributed in a fixed way as official duties [form or structure].

2. The authority to give the commands required for the discharge of these duties is distributed in a stable way and is strictly delimited by rules concerning the coercive means, physical, sacerdotal, or otherwise, which may be placed at the disposal of officials.

3. Methodical provision is made for the regular and continuous fulfillment of these duties and for the execution of the corresponding rights; only persons who have the generally regulated qualifications to serve are employed [process] (Weber, 1946, p. 196).

It is but a short step to the interpenetration of bureaucratic form and a highly structured, highly rationalized system of law enforcement. According to one commentator (Muller, 1991), Weber conceptualized the social apparatus in a way consistent with the prevailing custom and practice of nineteenth-century Prussia, where the judicial system functioned with reference to a significant body of positive law "that was supposedly free of all partisan taint and that claimed to have liberated the law 'from the chains of doctrinaire politics'" (Muller, 1991, p. 8). Muller adds that German legal positivism was not as value-free as was supposed, and he cites the wedge that Nazi police-statism ultimately made for itself within the German legal system. Even Weber warns against a bureaucracy that is too rigid because it can threaten social comity, personal freedom, and individual development. Nevertheless, Weber forms a picture of bureaucracy as the rational, im...

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Max Weber's Social Theory. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:33, July 27, 2017, from
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